The Plague (La Peste) by Albert Camus (1947)…

being the book that saw resistance to injustice as a moral imperative. I bought my copy in 1978.

Tarrou, the character who most starkly articulates Camus’ own philosophy, says: “I have realised that we all have the plague … The good man is the man who has fewest lapses of attention.”

Only a handful can do more: these are the ‘healers.’ The central character in the novel is literally a healer, a doctor who tends the plague victims. Dr Rieux, the one who gets on with the job of alleviating the suffering he sees plainly before him.

For Camus to deprive a person her or his life because of war was to him the most complete form of oppression, and he never saw it as other than ‘legalised murder.’

Iraq War (2003) conservative estimate of deaths 470,000 (60% of those violent deaths). The US led ‘Afghan War’ (2001) 120,000. During the decade-long Soviet occupation (1979-1989) 500,000 Afghans died ‘from acts of war!’

So, in the 21st century so far, well over half a million deaths from these two ‘war viruses’ alone!and that’s a very conservative estimate.

Camus was born into extreme poverty and from boyhood his life was threatened by TB. He died suddenly at the age of 46 in an unexplained car crash – just two years after winning the Nobel prize for literature in 1958.

Albert Camus

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